Dangers of off-label drug use kept secret

Doctors across Canada are routinely giving powerful drugs to vulnerable patients, often without strong scientific evidence proving the drugs will be safe or effective, and sometimes despite warnings that such prescribing could cause serious harm. . . . “It’s absurd,” said York University Professor Joel Lexchin in the Toronto Star June 26. “There are significant public safety implications. This is a major problem for doctors and patients alike. . . . The job of the health regulator is to protect public health. If they’re withholding information that could do that, then they’re abdicating part of their job.” Read full story.

How to become a better reader
Deep reading, it turns out, may strengthen our sense of empathy. “The network of brain regions activated during story comprehension are the same that help you understand what people are thinking and feeling,” said York University psychology Professor Raymond Mar in Real Simple July 1. In three separate studies (two on adults and one on young children), Mar found that the more fiction that people read, the better they are at empathizing with others. Read full story.

MBA grads increasingly look beyond ‘big corporate world’
A graduate business degree offers a well-worn path to careers in finance, marketing and consulting. But what if one’s preferred destination lies elsewhere? “Those traditional pathways are what made me nervous about doing my MBA,” said Carolyn Burns, a 2012 graduate of York University’s Schulich School of Business, in The Globe and Mail June 27. “But the more I looked into specialty programs at Schulich and a few in the United States, I found they do focus on some really fascinating areas.” Read full story.

An urban planner warns: Beware of the too-cheap Toronto condo
Ute Lehrer, an associate professor at York University, would like to see people paying more for Toronto condos, reported The Globe and Mail June 26. Why? Because you get what you pay for, she says. “Sometimes you have to invest more up front in order to save later,” says Lehrer, who has a PhD in urban planning. “If I had the authority to advise, I would actually suggest that the entire building industry produce higher-quality condominiums over all, and that, of course, means higher prices.” Read full story.

Immigration experts say Bill C-24 discriminatory and weakens citizenship
Currently, Canada has one of the highest naturalization rates in the world, with about 70 to 80 per cent of newcomers becoming citizens, said York University sociology Profesoor Luin Goldring in the Toronto Star June 27. In the decade between 2003 and 2013, about 1.9 million immigrants became Canadian citizens. Goldring believes this high naturalization rate could change because of Bill C-24, with the door to citizenship becoming narrower. Read full story.

Roy Henry Vickers: An artist’s turn to speak
Roy Henry Vickers is a world-renowned artist, whose intensely coloured paintings merge nature and First Nations symbolism, reported the Vancouver Sun June 27. His paintings have been given to royalty, including Queen Elizabeth, and he is the recipient of the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Canada, a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and an honorary doctorate of letters from York University. Read full story.

China’s new commitments in Africa
“Appealing to hearts and minds in Africa on his recent visit (May 2014), Chinese premier Li Keqiang pledged that his country would boost living standards in Africa with announcements of $12 billion for the region,[1] and help Africa to realize the dream of connecting all of its national capitals by rail,” wrote York University political science Professor Gregory Chin on the Foreign Policy Institute’s website June 19. “While Li’s announcements grabbed the media headlines, students of foreign policy and global governance would have noticed that other important changes in China’s approach to Africa were signalled during the visit.” Read full story.

Do any MPPs really want to hear about our declined votes?
As York University political science Professor Dennis Pilon correctly points out, actually going to the polls on election day to decline your ballot in person takes more effort than is typically seen when it comes to dissatisfied citizens. Most usually end up lumped into the roughly half of eligible voters who don’t show up at all, reported the Aurora Banner June 25. Read full story.

‘Mr. Big’ police stings called into legal question
Timothy Moore, a York University psychology professor who has researched the Mr. Big technique, said the upcoming Supreme Court ruling will be “pivotal” in determining if Canadian police should keep using Mr. Big. “It will provide an answer, one way or another, on the acceptability or the degree of acceptability,” Moore said in the Toronto Star June 28. Read full story.

A haunting love story
Billed as the first and only Yiddish film produced in Canada, The Pin is a “haunting love story” about two young adults hiding in a barn in Lithuania during WWII, reported the The Canadian Jewish News June 30. . . . The actors took months of intensive language lessons before memorizing the script, which had been translated from English by Gloria Brumer, a professor of Yiddish at York University. Read full story.

Court rules Wal-Mart violated labour laws in Quebec union case
York University Professor David Doorey said the Supreme Court made it very clear that that Wal-Mart’s mass termination of employees and closing of the store was not “normal” business operations, and this could have broader implications across the country, reported The Globe and Mail June 27. Still, Doorey said, the decision won’t likely have a substantial impact on labour organizing, because “our laws have long prohibited an employer from closing and firing its work force to avoid a union.” Read full story.

Catholic schools earn high marks for environmentalism
Ontario EcoSchools was created in 2002 to make environmental issues a formal part of the education system. Seven school boards, York University, and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority collaborated to develop the environmental education program, reported the Brampton Guardian June 25. Read full story.